How to Put a Dog in Lateral Recumbency: A Step-by-Step Guide

Lateral recumbency, also known as lateral lying position, is a commonly practiced technique in veterinary medicine used to safely restrain and position a dog for various procedures such as examinations, vaccinations, or blood draws. It involves gently placing the dog on it’s side with the feet pointing away from the handler, which provides better access to different parts of the body. To ensure proper execution of this technique, it’s crucial to employ the correct method of placing the dog in lateral recumbency. Gradually lifting the dog's legs off the table or floor, and allowing her body to slide slowly against your body until she’s lying on her side, is the first step in achieving this position. Additionally, immobilizing the head by exerting pressure on the side with your forearm is essential for ensuring the dog's safety and minimizing any potential movement that may interfere with the procedure. By mastering the art of putting a dog in lateral recumbency, veterinary professionals can efficiently and effectively provide necessary care while prioritizing the comfort and well-being of their canine patients.

What Is Lateral Recumbency Used for in Dogs?

They should gently guide the dog onto it’s side, ensuring that the spine remains straight. The second person can assist by supporting the dogs body and legs as needed.

Once in lateral recumbency, the veterinarian or technician can easily access the dogs abdomen for examination or perform a nail trim. This position allows for a good visualization of the abdominal organs and helps to immobilize the dog.

Additionally, the lateral recumbency position can be useful during certain medical procedures. For example, if a dog needs to have blood drawn or receive an injection, laying them on their side can provide easier access to a vein or injection site.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that some medical conditions may require a dog to be placed in lateral recumbency for prolonged periods of time. This can be necessary during diagnostic imaging such as X-rays or ultrasounds, or during surgeries where the veterinarian needs a clear and stable surgical field.

Lateral recumbency refers to the position in which an animal is unable to stand up from lying on their sides. It’s often classified as either right or left lateral recumbency, depending on which side the animal is lying on.

What Is Lateral Recumbency?

Lateral recumbency is a term used to describe the position in which an animal is unable to rise from lying on their sides. This condition can occur in various species, including domestic animals such as dogs and cats, as well as livestock like cows and horses. It’s often specified as either right or left lateral recumbency, indicating which side the animal is lying on.

In some cases, it could be a normal resting position, especially for animals like cows that spend a significant amount of time lying down. However, when an animal is unable to rise from this position, it may be a sign of a health issue or injury.

Lateral recumbency can be caused by a range of conditions, including abdominal pain, musculoskeletal problems, neurological disorders, or even weakness due to exhaustion. In some cases, it may also be a result of trauma, such as a broken bone or spinal injury. Prompt veterinary attention is crucial to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment for the animal.

If an animal is in lateral recumbency, it’s essential to ensure their comfort and safety. Providing adequate bedding and support can help alleviate pressure points and prevent further injury.

It can be a sign of various health issues or injuries, and prompt veterinary attention is necessary to determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment. Ensuring the animals comfort and safety is vital while addressing the underlying problem to aid in their recovery.

Causes of Lateral Recumbency in Animals

  • Rapid onset of weakness
  • Neurological disorders
  • Trauma or injury
  • Spinal cord disease
  • Vestibular disease
  • Paralysis
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Infectious diseases
  • Toxicity
  • Vascular problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Drug reactions

Source: Recumbency in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis … – Wag!

How Do You Restrain a Dog on It’s Side?

Gently lower the dog onto it’s side, making sure to maintain a firm grip to prevent any sudden movements. Once the dog is in position, use your body to apply gentle pressure to keep the dog in a restrained position. This will help keep the dog calm and prevent it from attempting to roll over or escape.

If necessary, you can also use a towel or blanket to help secure the dog in place. Wrap the towel or blanket around the dogs body, making sure it’s snug but not too tight. This additional layer of restraint can provide extra support and stability, especially for larger dogs.

It’s important to note that restraining a dog on it’s side should only be done when absolutely necessary, such as during veterinary procedures or in emergency situations. It should never be used as a means of punishment or control in everyday situations.

When restraining a dog in this position, it’s crucial to remain calm and speak in a soothing voice to help keep the dog relaxed. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that may startle or agitate the dog.

Remember to always approach restraint with safety in mind, both for the dog and for yourself. If you feel unsure or uncomfortable, it’s best to seek assistance from a professional, such as a veterinarian or a dog trainer, who can provide guidance and ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Lateral recumbency, a common position used in veterinary procedures such as mandibulectomy and maxillectomy, offers effective exposure for the buccal surfaces of the uppermost teeth and jaws. However, it falls short in providing optimal visualization of the palate and lingual surfaces of the opposite quadrants.

Why Do We Use Lateral Recumbency?

Furthermore, lateral recumbency allows easier access to the oral cavity and facilitates proper positioning of the veterinarian during the procedure. This position also helps in reducing the risk of aspiration pneumonia by allowing the saliva and any other fluids to drain easily from the mouth. Additionally, lateral recumbency provides stability and support to the patients body, which is crucial during complex and lengthy procedures.

By positioning the animal on it’s side, it creates a more natural and calming environment, reducing anxiety and fear. This is especially important for animals who may already be in pain or are nervous about being manipulated.

It allows for better control of bleeding and also reduces the risk of inadvertent damage to surrounding structures. The veterinarian can easily monitor vital signs, administer anesthesia and other medications, and perform necessary interventions if any complications arise.

Lateral recumbency is also a preferred position for radiographic imaging and other diagnostic procedures. It allows for a clear and unobstructed view of the targeted area, making it easier to identify any abnormalities or lesions. This position also ensures that the patient is immobilized, minimizing the risk of injury during the imaging process.

Techniques for Properly Positioning an Animal in Lateral Recumbency

Proper positioning of an animal in lateral recumbency is crucial for various procedures, such as surgeries or radiographic imaging. It involves gently and safely moving the animal onto it’s side, ensuring a stable and comfortable position. This technique is commonly used in veterinary medicine to facilitate better access to specific areas of the body and promote patient safety during procedures. By positioning the animal correctly, veterinarians can effectively perform necessary treatments or examinations while minimizing any discomfort or stress for the animal.

This type of movement, known as lateral dog walking, requires coordination and balance as your dog carefully moves his legs in a side-to-side motion. Unlike forward walking, where the legs move in an alternating pattern, lateral stepping involves a simultaneous movement of the legs on the same side. Understanding this unique gait can provide insights into your dog’s physical abilities and offer an interesting perspective on their locomotion.

What Does Lateral Dog Mean?

Lateral stepping is a unique and fascinating behavior that some dogs naturally exhibit. This form of movement is characterized by the dog walking sideways, using a shuffle-like motion with their legs. Unlike regular walking or running, lateral stepping involves a distinctive pattern of stepping called “step-together-step.”

This means that it stays fairly straight without any visible curves or bends. By maintaining a neutral spine, the dog can smoothly transition from one side to another without any strain or discomfort.

While some may naturally display this movement pattern, others may require training and practice to develop this skill.


It’s important to approach this technique with patience and respect for the dog's well-being, ensuring their safety throughout the procedure.

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